Stack o rocks

Consider stacking workforce credentials to become more hirable

A workforce credential or certification can go a long way in setting yourself up for a new career or climbing the ladder in your current one. But stacking related trainings can help even more. For some industries, trainings build on each other – from basic to advanced. But for other fields, having a varied mix of certifiable skills can make you a more well-rounded job candidate.

Stacking credentials is a great option for individuals who want the skills and experience but don’t have the time, means or flexibility to commit to a long program.

Virginia’s Community Colleges is getting ready to launch a program that helps low or middle-income individuals pursue technology, skilled trades, healthcare, early childhood education or public safely programs.

This opportunity is centered around the idea of stacking credentials and allows a student to start and stop, while working, without losing academic progress along the way to an associate degree. Students can work from basic-skill-level courses to advanced skills and finally career skills. With each stack, the eligibility and job prospects increase, and more often than not, so does salary.

Here are some ways to approach stacking in different career clusters:

Logistics and Transportation / Skilled Trades

With the construction trades, all students are required to complete Introductory Craft Skills (also known as CORE), which earns them a credential from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Then there are multiple additional training levels for HVAC, Plumbing and Carpentry – which all result in certifications through NCCER.

Some other options:

  • CORE with HVAC and Heavy Equipment Operator
  • Electricity with Photovoltaic training (a fancy way to say “solar”)


The healthcare industry is a very popular industry for stacking credentials. A common combination of trainings is Certified Nursing Aide, Medication Aide, EKG Technician and/or Phlebotomy. There are also pathways built around the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant program.

Information Technology

Packaging CompTIA A+, Security+ and Network+ can help make you a well-rounded, skilled IT employee.

But where do you start? Contact your local career coach to see if there’s a pathway that helps you get to where you want to go. And once you do that, keep them on speed dial.